Rusa timorensisJavan rusa(Also: Timor deer)

Geographic Range

Javan rusa are found on most of the islands of Southeast Asia. They occur from Malaysia in the west to New Zealand in the east. (Kitchener and Charlton, 1990)


Javan rusa are principly found in deciduous forests, plantations and grasslands in the islands of Southeast Asia. They prefer the edges of the forest. (Whitehead, 1993)

Physical Description

Male Javan rusa are larger than females. Males usually weigh 152 kg, while females weigh about 74 kg. The males have a lyre-shaped, three-tined antlers, which weigh about 2.5 kg. Males and females have a rough grayish brown coat that is often coarse in appearance. Their ears are rounded and broad. The animals look short and stubby because they have relatively short legs. (Cranbrook, 1991; Huffman, 1999)

  • Range mass
    74 to 160 kg
    163.00 to 352.42 lb
  • Range length
    83 to 110 cm
    32.68 to 43.31 in


Like other deer species, Javan rusa have a polygynous mating system, with males competing for access to receptive females.

The gestation period is 8 months. They give birth to 1 calf, rarely 2. Breeding occurs throughout the year but peaks during the months between of July and September.

  • Breeding interval
    Javan rusa breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding peaks from July to September.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    8 months
  • Range weaning age
    6 to 8 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    18 to 24 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    18 to 24 months

Newly born calves stay with their mother. Weaning is from 6 to 8 months. These deer reach sexual maturity 18 to 24 months after birth. (Huffman, 1999; Putman, 1988)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Javan rusa live between 15 to 20 years in the wild and in captivity. Rarely do they live for more than 20 years. (Putman, 1988)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    15 to 20 years
  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15 to 20 years


Javan rusa are primarily nocturnal but they can browse and graze during the day. During the mating season, males decorate their antlers with grass and twigs to attract the females and intimidate competitors. Males are extremely vocal and aggressive towards one another. Males and females live separately most of the year, except during the mating season. Young calves stay with their mothers until they reach sexual maturity. They are gregarious, normally associating in herds. (Cranbrook, 1991; Huffman, 1999)

Home Range

Home range sizes of Javan rusa are not known.

Communication and Perception

Javan rusa, like other deer species, use chemical and visual cues and sounds in communication around reproductive state.

Food Habits

Like most deer, Javan rusa eat primarily grass and leaves. They hardly drink any water because they get their fluid from the grass and the leaves. (Kitchener and Charlton, 1990)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems


Although the Javan deer sometimes graze during the day, they are mostly nocturnal to avoid diurnal predators. Their primary predators are crocodiles, pythons, and Komodo dragons. (; Cranbrook, 1991)

Ecosystem Roles

Javan rusa help disperse seeds in the forest.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Javan rusas shed their antlers between the months of October and February. These are collected and used primarily in Asian medicine. Also, the antlers can be used as jewelry. In Queensland, Australia, 50% of the deer farmed are Javan rusa. While economic by-products such as hides offer some income to rusa farmers in Australia, the major commercial activity from rusa deer farming is deer meat (venison) production. Venison is considered a lean and nutritious red meat. (Sinclair, 1998)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Javan rusa have a direct impact on farming through competition with domestic stocks. The competition for pasture, between the deer and domestic animals use for farming, seems to be a very important issue in Indonesia. Also, Javan rusa eat crops and sometimes spread weeds that are harmful to farming. (Wodzicki, 1950)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Javan rusa are not considered endangered currently.

Other Comments

Javan rusa are the largest Rusa species. They were previously known by the scientific name Cervus timorensis.


Eduardo Reyes (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Bret Weinstein (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


having more than one female as a mate at one time

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Cranbrook, E. 1991. Mammals of South-east Asia. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Huffman, B. 1999. "Sunda Sambar, Rusa Deer" (On-line). Accessed November 18, 2001 at

Kitchener, D., L. Charlton. 1990. Wild Mammals of Lombok Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, 33: 105-106.

Putman, R. 1988. The Natural History of Deer. Ithaca, NY: Comstock Publishing Associates.

Sinclair, S. 1998. "Deer Farming in Queensland Rusa Deer Management" (On-line). Accessed November 18, 2001 at

Whitehead, K. 1993. The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. Stillwater,MN: Voyager Press Inc..

Wodzicki, K. 1950. Introduced Mammals of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.